Lower East Side Restaurants

Restaurant neighborhood
37 Canal St., Lower East Side
Even in a neighborhood full of charming restaurants, this bistro, named for the most famous Brigitte we know, Bardot, stands out. The intimate dining room is picturesque in the daylight—Carrera-marble bar, giant poolside print by Eduardo Cerruti and Stephanie Draime—and transforms into a beyond-romantic dinner spot at night. The menu fuses French classics with Mediterranean flavors like flourless crepes made with chickpeas and topped with eggplant salsa, and a seriously delicious charcuterie plate. Main courses are delivered on cast iron platters: The sea bream, roasted whole with rosemary and thyme, is delicious, and the octopus sprinkled with paprika has the perfect kick. The double-sided bar is brilliant for cocktail catchups with friends or first dates with potential lovers.
Lower East Side
43 Canal St., Lower East Side
Portuguese and Spanish vibes take center stage at this cozy Lower East Side spot from restaurateur Nialls Fallon and chef Nick Perkins, partners known for their Bed-Stuy restaurant, Hart’s. The menu is simple but satisfying, with a seafood bent: cockles with Vinho Verde and garlic; Maine scallops with endive and Basque peppers; a whole Boston mackerel with aioli; platters of Cape Cod and Washington State oysters. And the dishes pair well with a glass of unfortified white from the Iberian peninsula. There’s also a juicy grass-fed lamb burger and a roasted half chicken with asparagus and paprika. For the true Portuguese experience, come for Sunday brunch, when Cervo’s serves a classic fisherman’s breakfast, consisting of sardines, house-cured trout, and pickled red peppers on toasted sourdough.
Lower East Side
138 Orchard St., Lower East Side
New York's new guard of young chefs are doing things differently at Contra. Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (also of Wildair) are striving to create and define a new food identity specific to New York City alone, and given the packed seatings, awards, and consistently good reviews—their approach seems to be working. They serve a set menu self-described as "ambitious," so expect everything from uni paired with verbena to skate with beets. The restaurant does not accommodate any changes to the menu, so be sure to check it ahead of the time if you have dietary restrictions.
Lower East Side
Dirty French
180 Ludlow St., Lower East Side
Rich Torris's restaurant group first got attention for Torrisi, a (now-closed) Italian joint that re-imagined classic dishes. As its name suggests, their second venture, Dirty French, does the same for French food. The thing to order is definitely the mille-feuille (it's a riff on the original dish that substitutes paper-thin mushrooms for puff pastry), but the whole menu—and, by the way, wine list—is excellent. The quirky décor is imbued in every part of the experience, from Bruce High Quality Foundation sculptures to frilly antique serving trays. You'll only need a group of 30 to justify an entire buy-out of the space, which gets really dolled up around the holidays.
Lower East Side
Freeman Alley at Rivington St., Lower East Side
Nestled in a back alley that's decorated overhead with twinkle lights and on the sides with greenery, Freeman's is still going strong after all these years. The classically hipster interior (taxidermied animals and velvet floral couches abound) is dark and cozy, making it best suited to warm winter meals. Food-wise, the menu is simple but never boring, with options like a cracked wheat salad, house-made pork and fennel sausage, and seriously good Ipswich clam fritters. Sitting in the private wine room, tucked away in the back, feels a bit like eating a meal in a family member's kitchen.
Lower East Side
Ivan Ramen
25 Clinton St., Lower East Side
As its name would suggest, when it comes to ramen, Ivan and company know what they are doing (Ivan is actually a Jewish kid from Long Island who is obsessed with Japanese cooking). The Red-Hot Cold Mazemen is delicious, while the cold spicy sesame noodles topped with prawns are a great alternative on hotter days. If you go for dinner, they’re most famous for Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazeman and Four Cheese Mazeman, which they only serve at night—the Tokyo Shio Ramen, loaded with egg, pork chashu, and roast tomato is a bit lighter. If you're not into noodles, the pork meatballs, garnished with bonito flakes, Chinese broccoli prepared in a sweet soy and garlic sauce, and the Tofu Coney Island, which is essentially an Asian spin on chili cheese fries are all insanely good. Heavy, but delicious. There's also an Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in Gotham West Market.
Lower East Side
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